Construction has come a long way in accepting the challenges and the opportunities the IoT (Internet of Things) brings and the stats tell an interesting story. Dodge Data & Analytics’, www.construction.com, latest Dodge outlook report predicts moderate, but favorable, growth for the construction industry in 2017 across most project types. Specifically, the report predicts total U.S. construction starts will advance 5% to $713 billion in 2017.
Every time I write about the U.S. infrastructure I can’t help but wonder what it will take before we all respond as a nation. State after state is dealing with some infrastructure issues that in some way or another are causing giant pains, keeping city officials and residents fearful that something awful is inevitably going to happen. We need everyone to be thinking about how we are going to solve these problems. People are dreading a heavy rain that might result in a collapsing bridge, crumbling road, a giant sink hole, or an eroding spillway.
The world is ever-changing. It is becoming even more digital and the IoT (Internet of Things) is proving to be the next journey that the construction industry is exploring and undertaking at a very rapid clip. As a result, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd has a very interesting perspective about the cloud. As he sees it, IoT applications will enable businesses to leverage connected devices, mobility, and to advance to the supply chain, helping companies to get even more information to their customers.
After attending CONEXPO/CON-AGG last week I couldn’t help but be more focused than ever on rebuilding our infrastructure. It was apparent that with like-mined people anything is really possible. The many manufacturers, and of course, the thousands of contractors I have spoken with over time, have emphasized the need, and their desire, to improve our roads and bridges. Even Patrick Jones, the executive director and CEO of the IBTTA (Intl. Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Assn.) saluted the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) when he acknowledged their continued efforts to sound the alarm about the fragile state of America’s infrastructure.
The early days of construction was paved by opportunities. Building of roads, bridges, highways, and skyscrapers were all constructed by equipment that was dependent on gasoline motors, which replaced steam engines. Looking back today, it all seemed so archaic compared to the advanced computing technology that we began writing about just 20 years ago when we launched Constructech magazine.
All too often we talk about what the big tech providers are doing and how they are going to change our lives. But the real question comes down to: how are these tech moves going to impact our business? Well, we are actually getting a real glimpse into what many of the large technology providers are looking to do by simply taking a closer look at their patents. It’s really very telling to keep a close on the patent market.
There is a growing need for standards and data interoperability in the construction space. The IoT (Internet of Things) technology has left few industries untouched by its promise of insight-driving data, streamlined workflows, proactive and predictive maintenance, and more. Construction is no exception. The IoT in construction is blossoming, but there are interoperability hurdles that hold adoption back. Interoperability is key to building data solutions. Perhaps the easiest way to describe the need for interoperability and standards in data or the IoT is that machines and systems need to “speak the same language.”
“Stop the madness.” Those three words perhaps set the wheels in motion to launch what is now a very impressive initiative being headed up by some of the smartest people in construction. I have yet to meet anyone of the planet that doesn’t concur that with the right data, there are endless opportunities in infrastructure and construction in the coming years.
The construction industry is beginning to realize it’s facing disruption—either change or be displaced by a rapidly changing digital world. No longer can a construction manager sit in a jobsite trailer or office and assess what’s happening in the field. Today it’s all about realtime information that needs to be acted upon.
Here at Constructech we have been saying for years that construction professionals will make the necessary investment in cutting-edge technology. I recently spent a few days watching the construction industry take a giant step into the future reaffirming my belief construction is going to leapfrog many other industries.